Jersey Boys, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre - review with pictures
Audiences at Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre were left Beggin’ for more last night as the latest UK tour of Jersey Boys took the city centre venue by storm.
Having won 57 major awards worldwide, the show has an impressive history. Therefore it is no wonder that audiences across the country are still flocking to enjoy hit after hit in the tale of this sensational sixties group of unconventional musicians.
Although this is essentially a jukebox musical, the storyline is of course factual and so the show has far more depth than its counterparts, allowing the cast to really get to grips with the characterisations of the band members and give us an insight into life in the rough and tough world of New Jersey.
Those of you who don’t know much about the Four Seasons may be shocked and surprised by their somewhat dubious existence. Far from being the boys next door, these were true New Jersey lads, all of whom spent some time inside, thus making it difficult to perform and record.
But it was all worth the wait as their collaboration resulted in huge hits such as Big Girls Don’t Cry, Sherry, Walk Like a Man and My Eyes Adored You to name but a few.
In the first act as the storyline developed, we enjoyed some of the group’s lesser known songs including Cry for Me, I’m in the Mood for Love and Sunday Kind of Love, all of which were equally appealing.
It would be unfair to choose between the four leading men, as each one is perfectly cast, but a conversation heard on the way out of the theatre confirmed my thoughts that James Alexander Gibbs had done an impeccable job of portraying Frankie Valli, certainly in terms of his unforgettable falsetto vocals, but also his warm, charismatic personality which gushed over the floodlights.
Frankie Valli knew personal tragedy as well as fame and fortune and Gibbs’ interpretation of Fallen Angel, a song remembering his deceased daughter, was heart-wrenching but beautifully delivered.
Another highlight was his performance of My Mother’s Eyes, but for me, the romance and sophistication in his delivery of arguably the Four Seasons’ most famous tune, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, completely stole the show.
Simon Bailey as the band’s founder, Tommy DeVito, was arrogant and shady; the perfect strutting Italian Stallion, but he not only gave us this outstanding characterisation, but also offered an excellent vocal performance too.
Declan Egan as Bob Gaudio, the songwriter behind many of their hits, offered a solid, suave performance, while the humour, appeal and superb bass voice of Lewis Griffiths as Nick Massi charmed the pants off everyone.
The ladies in the cast were not to be outdone either. Although there are only four of them they certainly produced the goods, with a feisty, full-blooded portrayal of Valli’s long suffering wife, Mary by Tara Young and a great rendition of My Boyfriend’s Back from the girls playing The Angels.
There was a copiously camp cameo from Joel Elferink as record producer Bob Crew and together with the support of a strong, talented ensemble, ensured the show oozed class and professionalism.
Sergio Trujillo’s choreography was super slick and completely authentic for the era, executed to perfection by all, while the staging was simple, but highly effective with the set being transformed seamlessly by the use of props and an atmospheric lighting plot courtesy of Howell Binkley, which entirely captured the mood and feeling of 1960’s dives and dance halls they performed in.
The sound of the Four Seasons was of course unique and I would imagine pretty hard to emulate, but super fans can rest easy as Musical Director Francis Goodhand and his outstanding band whipped through hit after hit and together with these four exceptional vocalists, effortlessly recreated the harmonies and musical timing which made The Four Seasons’ sound so distinctive.
Jersey Boys is nothing short of the perfect night’s entertainment as the standing ovation for this superbly talented cast confirmed and without a doubt, it is one of the very best London shows to tour the country.
So, I guess all that is left to say is “Oh, What a Night!”
Call 01902 429212 or visit www.grandtheatre.co.uk for tickets.